Silencing of one copy of the translation initiation factor eIFiso4G in Japanese plum (Prunus salicina) impacts susceptibility to Plum pox virus (PPV) and small RNA production
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Background: In plants, host factors encoded by susceptibility (S) genes are indispensable for viral infection. Resistance is achieved through the impairment or the absence of those susceptibility factors. Many S genes have been cloned from model and crop species and a majority of them are coding for members of the eukaryotic translation initiation complex, mainly eIF4E, eIF4G and their isoforms. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of those translation initiation factors in susceptibility of stone fruit species to sharka, a viral disease due to Plum pox virus (PPV). Results: For this purpose, hairpin-inducing silencing constructs based on Prunus persica orthologs were used to generate Prunus salicina (Japanese plum) 4E and 4G silenced plants by Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation and challenged with PPV. While down-regulated eIFiso4E transgenic Japanese plums were not regenerated in our conditions, eIFiso4G11-, but not the eIFiso4G10-, silenced plants displayed durable and stable resistance to PPV. We also investigated the alteration of the si- and mi-RNA profiles in transgenic and wild-type Japanese plums upon PPV infection and confirmed that the newly generated small interfering (si) RNAs, which are derived from the engineered inverted repeat construct, are the major contributor of resistance to sharka. Conclusions: Our results indicate that S gene function of the translation initiation complex isoform is conserved in Prunus species. We discuss the possibilities of using RNAi silencing or loss-of-function mutations of the different isoforms of proteins involved in this complex to breed for resistance to sharka in fruit trees. © 2019 The Author(s).
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